Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) data show the total value of Vietnam’s foreign trade in January 2019 reached US$40.8 billion, a rise of 1.8 percent compared with December 2018 and up 0.89 percent compared with January 2018.
Specifically, total export value reached an estimated US$20 billion, up 1.9 percent compared with December 2018. The export value of wholly owned domestic firms accounted for US$6.42 billion, up 7.8 percent. That of the foreign invested sector, including crude oil, reached US$13.58 billion, down 5.1 percent.
The export value of agricultural, forest and aquatic products reached an estimated US$2.26 billion, up 3.1 percent compared with December 2018 and accounting for 11.28 percent of total export value. The export of fruit, vegetables, cassava and cassava products, coffee and pepper grew significantly.
The export value of processing industry-related products - a major driving force of export growth - reached an estimated US$16.42 billion, accounting for more than 82 percent of total export value and up 1.6 percent compared with December 2018. Major contributors to January export value included telephones and components, textiles and garments, footwear, computers, electronic products and components. The export value of five products exceeded US$1 billion.
Free trade agreements (FTAs) contributed to the growth of exports to most markets in January 2019 compared with December 2018. The US remained Vietnam’s largest export market, with US$40.5 billion in trade, up 11.8 percent compared with January 2018.
Total import value in January 2019 reached an estimated US$20.8 billion, up 1.7 percent compared with December 2018. The import of necessary goods, mostly input materials for domestic production, was up 1.6 percent compared with January 2018, reaching US$18.19 billion. This is a good signal for manufacturing activities in 2019 in both the domestic and foreign-invested sectors.
Measures to boost exports
The MoIT forecast that total export value would increase following the launch of Samsung’s foldable smartphone and Galaxy S10 in San Francisco and London on February 20. Samsung’s factory in Vietnam is expected to operate at full capacity in 2019 because Samsung Electronics has closed its phone manufacturing facility in China and is facing difficulties in India.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has come into force, signaling potential growth in the market share of Vietnamese goods in countries with high tax rates, such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said that to achieve the export target set for 2019, the MoIT is taking various measures to boost exports in accordance with international economic integration trends.
Specifically, the ministry is intensifying the spread of public information about FTAs of which Vietnam is a signatory, especially the CPTPP, to enable domestic businesses to make the most of opportunities to boost exports and attract foreign investment. Suitable measures will be taken to boost exports to each market. Along with efforts to increase the share of Vietnamese goods in traditional export markets and the ones that are FTA partners, the ministry will help businesses seek new, potential markets. Suitable products will be chosen to join export promotion programs for each period.
The MoIT is paying special attention to institutional reform, improving the legal corridor and the state administrative apparatus, as well as the business and investment environment, to mobilize resources for production. Businesses are focusing on creating quality products meeting importer requirements.
In January 2019, Vietnam faced a trade deficit of US$800 million, equivalent to four percent of total export value.
Domestic businesses faced a trade deficit of US$2.6 billion, while foreign-invested companies, including crude oil
businesses, recorded a trade surplus of US$1.8 billion.